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Ejik International Agencies dismisses power sector probe as smear campaign

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The ongoing investigation process by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into alleged corrupt practices and rot in the power sector was said to have been exploited and misleading against certain corporate entities and individuals.

It was also learnt that Chris-Ejik International Agencies LTD was among the companies allegedly targeted for falsehood and campaign of calumny.

Besides, a report recently published by one of the dailies titled “Power Sector Probe: EFCC Quizzes 50, Traces N1. 5b Bribe to NDPHC” reported that some companies contracted by the Niger Delta Power Holding Limited (NDPHL) to execute power projects allegedly collected staggering amount of money and abandoned the projects completely, half done or did just a little above 30% job and disappeared.

Some of the projects were said to have unnecessarily dragged on for years and were being recycled, the report claimed.

The publication also reported that, “As for Chris-Ejik, it handled Obudu new Sub-Station with 35% of the job done after being paid N1, 034, 292, 598. 52 and $4,945,087.16. The company complained of way leave. The same company collected N500million for Lot Trx (Lekki-Ajah/Ota-Ogba-Papalanto. Nothing was done by our investigation but the onus is on the company to come up with proof”, the report stated.

However, according to Chijioke Onyeneke, the lawyer for Chris – Ejik International Agencies Ltd, “The figure bandied by the report as amount collected by Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd cannot be corroborated by any contractual document anywhere.

“Besides, it’s a malicious and clear hatched job sponsored by those who are out to tarnish the national and international image and reputation of the company, Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd”, he spoke yesterday when he was making some clarifications to the press on the issues raised by the controversial publication.

“For instance, it is totally false to say that Lekki-Ajah power project is an independent transmission line as the publication suggested. No it is not. Lekki-Ajah project was part of the Lot 14 transmission line comprising of New Abeokuta, Old Abeokuta, Ota and Papalanto.

“Lekki-Ajah was dropped out of Lot 14 project mainly because the federal government said it did not have the needed funds to finance the right of way on the contract and for the record, Chris Ejik International Agencies Ltd successfully completed the Lot 14 project and it was duly commissioned by His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on August 15, 2019.

“Another important point that was stressed was the fact that “Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd built a 260 MVA Transmission Substation. Preceding this location are three other interconnected project locations – Otta, Papalanto and Old Abeokuta. Precisely the Project started from Otta Substation where we erected a 1×60 MVA Substation and a 4×33 KVA Feeders.

“From Otta, it runs to Papalanto where webuilt a 3x33KVA Feeders. Continuing from Paplanto, the lines run to Old Abeokuta where we built a 3x132KV Feeders. From Old Abeokuta it runs to New Abeokuta which is where we are now. When you put together, the Lot 14 Project consists of engineering, procurement and construction of 4 Substations and 3 Transmission Lines across Four Towns and Communities”.

Barrister Onyeneke, therefore, accused the medium of fake news and public misinformation saying that “the report was biased as the company was not contacted to give its own side of the story”.

Also, the company’s lawyer said, “On Obudu power project, “You will recall that the said Obudu Sub-Station power project was initially designed as Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) 30MVA project but was subsequently taken over by the NIPP and was later moved to 60MVA”.

The lawyer also said the publication told lies about the amount Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd collected for the Obudu Sub-Station. According to him, “It is false to say that, Chris-Ejik International Agencies Ltd collected the sum of N1, 034, 292, 598. 52 and $4,945,087.16 for Obudu power project when in actual sense it collected a total sum of N373,844,684.47 out of the contract cost and delivered about 40% job done. This money was paid in four installments.

He affirmed that the work was stopped because the federal government said it could no longer fund the project adding that “all these facts are verifiable but the paper chose mischief instead of professional journalism for such a hatched job.

He added, “The case, as learnt, is not necessarily new to the company as the power company and its management have explained its own side of the story to the anti-corruption agency and they are already cooperating with the agency’s investigation in any way necessary so as to demonstrate that it is in support of the EFCC’s investigations in order to ensure probity and accountability in the sector”.

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Bayelsa/Kogi guber: No card reader, No voting — INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that no voter will be allowed to vote without his card being recognised by the Smart Card Reader in the November 16, elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

Prof. James Apam, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), disclosed this to NAN on the sidelines of a one-day Training on Election Duties, organised by Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) for its Staff at Kogi Sector Command Headquarters in Lokoja.

Speaking on behalf of Apam, Olugbenga Ajayi, a staff officer of the commission, warned that no person would be allowed to vote without being accredited using the card reader.

“We keep learning everyday, and we want to obey what we have said as electoral umpire; if card reader cannot identify you, you cannot vote.

“It is either card reader or no voting in Kogi and Bayelsa elections; anything apart from the use of card reader for accreditation and voting will be disqualified.

“No manual accreditation would be allowed; it is either card reader or no voting,” he added.

He enjoined all the personnel participating in the elections to conduct themselves well without compromise but respect their dignity and protect the sanctity of the elections.

He further urged other security personnel to adequately secure electoral staff and election materials, stressing that all eyes are now on Kogi and Bayelsa elections.

“We urged the security personnel to live by the oath they swore to and not chasing after politicians for money,” he said

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EFCC docks man, son for alleged $108,000 USD fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos office, Wednesday arraigned John Isang and his son, Martins over alleged obtaining of $108,000 under false pretence.

The duo were made to appear before Justice Sherifat Solebo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren disclosed this in a statement to TIMELY POST.

Uwujaren affirmed that the duo allegedly obtained the said sum from Ikechukwu Eze on the pretext of providing him a vessel to transport Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) outside the country.

But the defendants, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.

One of the counts reads: “That you John Isang, Martins John Isang, David Ola (now at large), Ferdinand Lolo (now at large), Frank Aku (still at large), Agare Celebrate (still at large), Sani Abdulllahi (still at large),Mark Aku (still at large) and Ibor Ferdinand Agbor (still at large) sometimes in August 2018 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired to obtain money from Mr. Ikechukwu Eze by falsely representing to Ikechukwu Eze that you had a vessel to transport 5000 Metric Tons of Automative Gas Oil (AGO) for him from Nigeria to Ghana which pretence you knew was false.”

The other charge reads: “That you John Isang, Martins John Isang, David Ola (now at large), Ferdinand Lolo (now at large), Frank Aku (still at large), Agare Celebrate (still at large), Sani Abdulllahi (still at large),Mark Aku (still at large) and Ibor Ferdinand Agbor (still at large) sometimes in September 2018 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court obtained the sum of $108, 000 (One Hundred and Eight Thousand United States Dollars) from Mr. Ikechukwu Eze by falsely representing to Ikechukwu Eze that the money was the cost of hiring a vessel to transport 5000 Metric Tons of Automative Gas Oil (AGO) from Nigeria to Ghana which pretence you knew was false.”

On this premise, the prosecution counsel, C.R. Edozie asked the court for a trial date and an order to remand the defendants in prison pending the outcome of the case.

Also, the defence counsel, H.E. Igbenemo informed the court that he was yet to file and serve bail applications on behalf of his clients because he was briefed about the arraignment the previous day.

He, therefore, prayed the court for a short date to allow the defence file and serve the court and the prosecution with the bail application.

In his ruling, Justice Solebo adjourned the case to December 12, for hearing of bail application and ordered that the defendants be remanded in a Nigerian Correctional Centre.

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Sowore: Soyinka flays FG over attack on protesters, says Buhari govt insecure, paranoid

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The Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, has called on civil society organisations to strategize and coordinate their responses to attacks on human rights by state agents under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Soyinka, in his statement sent to TIMELY POST, reacted to the attack on protesters on Tuesday in Abuja for demanding the release of Omoyele Sowore by the State Security Service.

“The sporadic, uncoordinated responses as in the case of Omoyele Sowore, the absence of a solid strategy, ready to be activated against any threat — these continue to enable these agencies in their mission to enthrone a pattern of conduct that openly scoffs at the role of the judiciary in national life,” the don said.

He condemned “the level of arrogance” by agents of the state under President Buhari, saying it “has crossed even the most permissive thresholds.”

“As I remarked from the onset, this is an act of government insecurity and paranoia that merely defeats its real purpose,” he said.

TIMELY POST reported how protesters demanding the release of Mr Sowore were violently dispersed with gunshots in Abuja with some of them including journalists covering the protest sustaining injuries.

Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, is being detained by the SSS despite meeting his bail conditions set by the court.

The activist and former presidential candidate is being prosecuted for calling for a revolution against bad governance. He is charged with treasonable felony and money laundering.

Below is Soyinka’s full statement:

SOWORE, HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE RULE OF LAW

It should become abundantly clear by now that Civil Society organisations, committed to the entrenchment of the Rule of Law and the defence of fundamental human rights must come together. This is not a new cry. They must meet, debate, and embark on a binding pact of tactical responses whenever these two pillars of civilized society are besieged by the demolition engines of state security agencies. The sporadic, uncoordinated responses as in the case of Omoyele Sowore, the absence of a solid strategy, ready to be activated against any threat — these continue to enable these agencies in their mission to enthrone a pattern of conduct that openly scoffs at the role of the judiciary in national life. Result? A steady entrenchment of the cult of impunity in the dealings of state with the citizenry – both individuals and organizations. The level of arrogance has crossed even the most permissive thresholds.

It is heart-warming to witness the determined efforts of “Concerned Nigerians” in defence of these rights. Predictably, the ham-fisted response of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) continues to defy the rulings of the court. The weaponry of lies having been exploded in their faces, they resort to what else? Violence! Violence, including, as now reported, the firing of live bullets. Why the desperation? The answer is straightforward: the government never imagined that the bail conditions for Sowore would ever be met. Even Sowore’s supporters despaired. The bail test was clearly set to fail! It took a while for the projection to be reversed, and it left the DSS floundering. That agency then resorted to childish, cynical lies. It claimed that the ordered release was no longer in their hands, but in Sowore’s end of the transfer. The lie being exploded, what next? Bullets of course!

Such a development is not only callous and inhuman, it is criminal. It escalates an already untenable defiance by the state. As I remarked from the onset, this is an act of government insecurity and paranoia that merely defeats its real purpose. And now – bullets? This is no longer comical. Perhaps it is necessary to remind this government of precedents in other lands where, even years after the event, those who trampled on established human rights that generate homicidal impunity are called to account for abuse of power and crimes against humanity. The protests for Sowore’s release go beyond only acts of solidarity, they are manifestations of the judgment and authority of courts of law, under which this nation is supposedly governed. Either it is, or it isn’t. The answer stares us all in the face. The principles that now fall under threat implicate more than one individual under travail. They involve the very entitlement of a nation to lay claim to membership of any democratic, humanized union.

Enough of this charade, nothing more than a display of crude, naked power. Release Omoyele Sowore and save us further embarrassment in the regard of the world. An apology to the nation by the DSS and the judiciary would also not be out of place. It would go some distance in redeeming the image of an increasingly fascistic agency and reduce the swelling tide of public disillusionment.

Let the rule of law reign. Failing that, have the honesty to proclaim the death of ordered society. Then we’ll all know just where we stand.

Wole SOYINKA
WS Foundation for the Humanities
Abeokuta, Ogun State
November 12, 2019

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